(I had written this blog post a few years ago, when my elder son was barely three and my younger one was just a few months old. It was inspired by my survival of early motherhood through a whole lot of personal chaos; what struck me when I was re-reading it was my exclusion of all the ugly conflicts we were embroiled in, and instead, my focus on the beauty of mothering, whether it was heartwarming or exhausting, and my determined attention to my children above and beyond anything else that was going on. It is one of my forever truths: the existence of my children are at the crux of my craving to not just survive, but to thrive.)
Poopy diaper explosion at the airport while you’re running to catch your next flight. Sticky syrupy fingers leaving a gooey trail on your smartphone screen when you’re responding to an urgent message. Curdled spit up on your fancy attire just as you’re about to step out for that dinner party. Incessant wails at the toy store because you won’t buy yet another Lightning McQueen to add to the mammoth Cars collection lying scattered around the house. “Carry me, carry me, carry me!” ringing in your ears as you try to explain to your whiny toddler that it is physically impossible to carry his wriggling 5-month-old brother in one arm, a diaper bag the size of a small country on the other arm, and a folded stroller in one hand that is threatening to collapse at any moment. Any of this sound familiar? If so, you must have been me: at the rising crescendo of mummyhood, juggling the cuteness of babyhood and the precociousness of toddlerhood, and at the same time, balancing the desires of many more heart-melting-moments alongside a necessary dose of sanity.
I don’t think one can even begin to comprehend the endless amount of patience a mother possesses until, well, you become one yourself. It is one thing to sit back and watch and empathize with what seems like an obviously difficult task, but it is an entirely different experience to walk a few steps in this most celebrated (and exhausting) role. I have only been a mother for two and half years and I can attest to the fabric of my patience being stretched to its utmost limits. And, believe it or not, my patience continues to expand, every single day.
Just when you think you have reached the boiling point, something shifts inside, and you find yourself continuing to cradle your wailing baby in your arms and whispering sweet nothings into his ears until he has peacefully drifted off to sleep… maybe an hour after the whole ordeal started. Yes, a whole hour (or two, or three?) of contorting your face into the silliest shapes and rocking back and forth to the forever-on-repeat nursery rhymes, while somehow resisting the most tempting urge to allow your sleep-deprived self to slip into blissful unconsciousness. My ability to put everything aside for the sake of my children’s well-being never ceases to amaze me.
I’m sure I’m speaking for all mothers when I say that these sacrifices aren’t performed unwillingly or even grudgingly, but they are far from easy. Anybody who scoffs at a mother wanting to put her weary feet up at the end of a long day should volunteer to be their nanny the next day. Every day is a new battlefield, and the wars being fought require every bit of your presence – mind, heart, and body. The amount of effort that goes into ironing out yet another day full of activities for children (whether it’s coaxing food into their bellies, engaging them in productive age-appropriate activities, or getting them ready for bedtime) requires total commitment. The responsibilities a mother shoulders far surpasses anything else asked of her.
Mothers are a rather special breed within our human race. They are the ones who hold an endless capacity to love, nurture, and protect. Patience, diligence, and intelligence are their middle names. Self-indulgence takes an eternal backseat, with the realization that the only time for personal space is the couple of hours snatched early in the morning or late at night. Multitasking is their operative norm – they are truly omnipresent in every sense. They are constantly doing the due diligence on their children’s personal development, educational pursuits, and emotional and physical health. Their part-time jobs include being leaders, teachers, counselors, mentors, confidantes, nurses, chauffeurs, and everything else in between. There is not a position too high or low for a mother to take under her wings. She has seen it all and done it all.
I have often wondered – is it not a coincidence that our living, breathing planet is lovingly referred to as Mother Earth? After all, it is only a Mother who could take on the challenges of nurturing a planet as complex, exciting, and exhausting as ours. I certainly feel the same way about my little bubs. They were conceived inside of me, grew within me, and birthed to the outside world through me. And now, as two little persons on their own, they begin their individual journeys, with me for now, and in due course, without me later. But with or without me, we are connected in ways only the three of us can know – it is our private, special, invisible umbilical cord that extends and grows and strengthens through every consecutive chapter of theirs, mine, and ours. Before, now, and forever.